Though doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are known for their ability to treat and sometimes prevent musculoskeletal issues, the American Chiropractic Association adds that “DCs also counsel patients on diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits, and occupational and lifestyle modification.”1
This is critical as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 40 percent of the American population is currently obese. Additionally, the prevalence of obesity is higher for adults between the ages of 40 to 59, with 43 percent of this portion of the population having higher body mass indexes (BMIs) compared to 36 percent of those aged 20 to 39.2 Regardless of age, this increases these individuals’ risks of major health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer.
Many patients realize this and want to make changes with eating healthier and getting more exercise consistently ranking among the top New Year’s resolutions.3 So, how can DCs help their patients lose their excess weight, and thereby reduce their risk of what can easily turn into life-threatening diseases?
The first option is to counsel them on how to eat in a way that promotes weight loss. This type of healthy eating program generally involves following “a reduced calorie, nutritionally-balanced eating plan” and requires eating meals regularly, starting with breakfast, the first meal of the day.4
Given these points, it helps to remind patients that certain dietary considerations do count. Patients should watch their total caloric intake, food portion sizes, and the nutritional content of the foods they consume.
As far as what type of dietary program is best, this is where experts tend to disagree. Some prefer high-protein diets and others say that low-carb, high-fat is best. This discrepancy highlights that there is no one-size-fits-all eating program for everyone; it’s often more a matter of figuring out what works best for each individual.
Physical activity recommendations
Another way to lose excess weight is to increase one’s level of physical activity. Working out regularly also helps firm muscles so they are tighter and can better support the body as it performs basic, everyday functions. But how much exercise is required to adequately help with the weight-loss process?
According to the CDC, the goal should be to eventually work toward 3.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This involves doing activities such as brisk walking, light yardwork, or playing with children.5
Alternatively, if the activity’s intensity is more vigorous in nature—such as when running, cross-country skiing, and playing competitive sports—then 1.25 hours per week is often enough. If the patient is just starting out, going slow and working toward this level of activity should be encouraged to reduce injury risk.
Weight loss supplementation
Weight-loss supplements can also help with the process, especially when the right supplements are taken for the right reasons. When advising patients on which supplements are safe and effective, it’s important to do your research beforehand, paying particular attention to the science behind the supplement and the ingredients it contains. The more studies there are backing it, the better.
For instance, there are more than 250 studies that show that oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is helpful in regard to weight loss. OEA is a lipid that naturally occurs in the body and is usually found in the intestines. It is linked to weight-loss in humans and an FDA-acknowledged new dietary supplement of OEA is now available in the U.S.
One such study published in the journal Appetite, for example, found that obese individuals who took OEA capsules daily experienced a significant decrease in weight, BMI, waist circumference and fat percentage. Subjects taking OEA also reported being less hungry, feeling fuller and experiencing fewer cravings when compared to a control group that received a placebo.6
Having the discussion
While the above information is helpful, you may be wondering how to best broach the subject of weight-loss with patients who could potentially benefit from dropping a few pounds.
In this case, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) recommends that health care practitioners “open the discussion about weight in a respectful and nonjudgmental way.” For instance, instead of jumping straight to the patient’s weight, it helps to first talk about the risks they face when they are above a healthy weight.7
Additionally, the NIDDKD suggests avoiding terms like “fatness,” “excess fat” and “obesity,” and using words like “weight” and “BMI” instead, as they are preferable. It also involves being aware of cultural differences so you don’t inadvertently offend your patients, as well as asking questions to determine the eating and drinking habits that may be leading to their weight (versus asking questions that make them feel as if they’re being attacked for being bigger in size).
Good questions to ask, according to the NIDDKD, include:
- What do you typically eat and drink?
- How much do you normally eat and drink?
- Do you ever eat for emotional reasons, such as when you’re tired or bored?
- How much of your day do you sit?
- What types of activities do you typically enjoy?
Helping patients lose weight is part of practicing quality health care. This involves giving those who look to you for help proper advice about diet, exercise and weight-loss supplements, as well as talking with them in a non-judgmental way that makes them feel respected.
When you can do this, then you’ll know that you gave them the tools they need to change their lives for the better, and are empowering them to do just that.
Jay N. Yepuri, MD, MS, is the chief medical officer at NutriForward, LLC, a company that markets an FDA-acknowledged new dietary supplement of OEA—RiduZone. He is a gastroenterologist in active clinical practice with Digestive Health Associates of Texas (DHAT). He practices general gastroenterology and advanced therapeutic endoscopy, and serves on multiple medical boards and advisory committees. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.NutriForward.com.
1 American Chiropratic Association. “Frequently Asked Questions About Chiropractic.” https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Why-ChooseChiropractic/Chiropractic-Frequently-AskedQuestions. Published Sep. 2010. Accessed Sep. 2018.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Adult Obesity Facts.” https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Updated Aug. 2018. Accessed Sep. 2018.
3 Armstrong M. “The Most Common New Year’s Resolutions for 2018.” Statistica. https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018. Published Jan. 2018. Accessed Sep. 2018.
4 Nutrition.gov. “Interested in Losing Weight?” https://www.nutrition.gov/weight-management/strategies-success/interested-losing-weight. Published March 2012. Accessed Sep. 2018.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight.” https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html. Updated May 2015. Accessed Sep. 2018.
6 Laleh P1, Yaser K2, Abolfazl B3, et al. Oleoylethanolamide increases the expression of PPAR-Α and reduces appetite and body weight in obese people: A clinical trial. Appetite. 2018;128:44-49.
7 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Talking with Patients about Weight Loss: Tips for Primary Care Providers.” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/ health-information/weight-management/ talking-adult-patients-tips-primary-care-clinicians. Published Jan. 2017. Accessed Sep. 2018.